Archives For Politics

If Christianity Today is to remain at the top of its game after their recent support for the full impeachment of Donald Trump, on what is already widely agreed to be manufactured political manoeuvring by Leftists, they’ll now need to give voice to a broader theological critique.

Australia’s Eternity News also seemingly plopped itself onto the bandwagon, defending what looked like its own giddy, veiled applause with the dismissal that “reporting the news is not the same as supporting the contents of it.” This is despite individuals calling the article “brave.”

Readers of both Eternity News and Christianity Today would be right to now feel a fresh entitlement to see from them a FULL Christian theological critique of the spirit of the age, if they are to remain consistent, including:

1.Speaking out against abortion;

2.Exposing the lies of deep state Democrats and career politicians;

3.Providing a complete and rigorous defence of the rights of charities who graciously hold to a biological and biblical definition of marriage;

4. Criticism of Islamic terrorism;

5. Criticism of the abuse of women under Islamism;

6. A blanket protest against the manipulation and mutilation of young people via transgenderism and the apocalyptic climate change propaganda;

7. Condemnation of the bullying of Israel Folau, Margaret Court, and others under the guise of “LGBTQ rights.”

Given the trajectory, this all seems unlikely. As one commentator said, after reading about Christianity Today’s apologetic track record of Barack Obama, “don’t hold your breath, mate.”

Christianity Today’s treatment of Donald Trump and the previous President are miles apart. One simple search engine comparison proves it [same search engine, same search parameters, completely different result]:

Why the concern?

Franklin Littell, in analyzing the antebellum (pre-civil war) condition of the American churches, identified a pattern of ideological servitude. Churches across America, both North and South were internally divided along ideological grounds. Pastors preached a mix of politics and theology, subsuming the theological critique into the service of a louder ideological master. Thus, he said, was the precursor to the most devastating war the United States ever experienced.

How far Littlell’s analysis is to be viewed as a litmus test for us today remains an intriguing open question. Christianity Today has a right to voice their opinion, as we have a right to demand, and expect that this voice be a consistent one.

It’s in this demand for consistency; the necessity of a consistent Christian theological critique of all ideological strong-holds, that gives rise to a diverse, but united front, joined in understanding against all unnecessary division.

This may seem utopian, but the further people wake up to the Left’s own totalitarian sins while being fully conscious of the sins on the right, the more opportunity there is for the Church to boldly reflect light in an otherwise dark place. Thus perhaps avoiding what Littell identifies as an inevitable slide into a broader, all-out civil war.


First published on Caldron Pool, 23rd December, 2019

© Rod Lampard, 2019

Last week, Ellie Goulding, an award winning British singer, decided to rethink a scheduled performance in support of The Salvation Army’s “Red Kettle Kickoff”, at an American Thanksgiving Day NFL Show. The decision was made in response to an Instagram follower falsely accusing The Salvation Army of discriminating against the LGBT community – claiming that the organization was employing passive euthanasia against the homeless:

“So sad to see Ellie supporting them :// they’re extremely homo/transphobic, literally to the point of letting queer homeless ppl die. Wish she had done some research beforehand or something.” – @        angelsporch

The comment was a reaction to Goulding’s Instagram post, announcing the singer’s partnership with The Salvation Army, showing the singer wearing a hair net and a Salvation Army apron.

Goulding then corresponded back stating,

“@angelsporch, Upon researching this, I have reached out to The Salvation Army and said that I would have no choice by to pull out unless they very quickly make a solid, committed pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community….thank you for drawing this to my attention.”

It’s unclear about what Goulding means by “research”. As the Daily Wire reported, unbiased information on The Salvation Army and the LGBT Community isn’t difficult to locate, beginning with The Salvation Army USA website itself.

In addition, the singer overlooked her own caption, in which she gave a clear outline of her own alleged positive experience of what The Salvation Army does for ‘addicts, the homeless, and those facing economic hardship via food, emergency relief for disaster survivors, and rehabilitation.’

Rather than take the hit, The Salvation Army responded swiftly and did so with class.

Commissioner David Hudson, National Commander of The Salvation Army issued a statement,

“thanking the singer and activists for shedding light on misconceptions and encouraging others to learn the truth about The Salvation Army’s mission to serve all, without discrimination…Ellie’s performance in the 23rd annual Salvation Army Red Kettle Kickoff during the Dallas Cowboys game Thanksgiving Day on CBS will kick off a season of giving that helps support these and many other programs and services throughout the country.”

Their official response reminds Christian organizations of the Biblical standard of keeping a cool head, when facing false accusations from Leftists, and their misinformed, generally always anonymous, keyboard warrior minions.

‘Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.’ (Proverbs 17:27, ESV)

NBC 5 said they’ve reached out to Goulding’s representatives for an official reply. As of today there has been no official response. However, the singer’s Instagram account is still active, with Rolling Stone reporting that her original reply has since been deleted.

Goulding either had no real idea about what the Salvation Army did and the content of her Instagram caption is a fabrication, or she was played by LGBTQAII+ activists; inadvertently participating in further perpetuating hate-filled, anti-Christian manipulative propaganda.

Business Insider’s, Allison Hope, applauded the singer’s ‘stance against the Salvation Army’, stating that they were ‘well known for being anti-LGBTQ’. Citing Huffington Post, and a bizarre “investigative” article from The Week, Hope squeezes everyone who holds to freedom of religion, and a biblical (scientifically backed) view of man for woman, woman for man, marriage, into poorly defined categories of hate speech, and discrimination against the LGBT community.

Hope then goes on to brazenly equate Goulding with “the people” of the UK, who recently pushed out Europe’s first Chick-fil-A because of the restaurant chain’s anti-LGBTQ stance.’

Hope’s analogy doesn’t do Goulding any favours. The example from the U.K. is one example among many of the thug like behavior of LGBT lobby groups, who are bullying people and organizations into total submission to their ideology, actions that persistently pose the question, who’s actually bullying who?

As far as Goulding being made accountable for attempting to shake down The Salvation Army, by black mailing them out of money designated for the poor, in order to placate the LGBT community, Goulding is likely to get a free ride.

The Left’s double standards have been applied. Exemplified by Allison Hope’s applause for what can only be described as an LGBT tax, or worse, extortion. The rash act has been white-washed, and the story has been abandoned; left to die, because appearance trumps substance; there’s no room allowed for due process, and burden of proof being applied to the original accuser. The singer’s alleged good intentions matter more than the potential or actual damage they may have caused.

Contrary to the misguided applause, Goulding’s example adds to the increasing list of caveats given to actors, actresses and musicians, looking to squeeze quick profit out of vanity metrics and virtue signalling.


First published on Caldron Pool, 19th November, 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

An anti-Christian LGBT group from Spokane, Washington, have reenacted an ante-bellum, chattel slavery auction, using cut-outs of outspoken Christian leaders, who are actively opposed to abortion and Drag Queen Story Time.

The LGBT group, Spokane United Against Religious Extremism and the Church, targeted 500 Mom Strong founder, Anna Bohach and pastors from ‘The Church at Planned Parenthood’ in an October fundraising event for the industrial abortion platform, Planned Parenthood.

According to Anna Bohach  (an activist against the sexualization and exploitation of children), the black slavery-era mock auction took place during an ‘Halloween themed drag show.’

Recounting the event in an article for Activist Mommy, Bohach said,

‘it started with Tiranny Hex lip-syncing and gyrating around the stage. She [He] was then followed by three back up dancers wearing effigies of Anna, Pastor Ken Peters, and Pastor Afshin Yaghtin…The main fundraiser of the evening which was billed as a fun surprise turned out to be a slave style auction. Drag Queens held up effigies of 6 prominent local Christians and auctioned them off to the highest bidder. The Christian effigies were lined up on a high stage and displayed in a fashion akin to the slave market auctions of America’s darkest past.’

Mocking the reports, the LGBT group dismissed the news on their Facebook page, with a typical juvenile, “l.o.l, it wasn’t us” defense, using the Breitbart article from Dr. Susan Berry, stating that the person used for the cover image “has nothing to do with them.”

The hashtag: “best counter protest ever”, the accusation: “they had no idea what really went on” and the threat: “we still have a surprise in store”, suggest otherwise.

Despite the dismissive, shrug of the shoulders response. The LGBT group’s poorly reasoned counter-claim doesn’t address Bohach’s original article. Neither has the group made any attempt to respond to photographs featured in the Activist Mommy article. All of which back Bohach’s recount of the event.

In commenting on why the group’s mock slavery auction of Christians, hasn’t headlined mainstream news media, Monica Showalter, for American Thinker referred readers back to  Bolach’s own powerful response:

‘Christians are the biggest threat to their agendas. We are the only ones standing in their way and telling them: ‘No, you will not abort babies; no, you will not exploit vulnerable women; and no, you will not expose our children to sexual deviancy and gender confusion.

Using effigies and a slave auction style fundraiser to raise money for an organization whose existence is based upon the extermination of black Americans is in very poor taste…But again, not surprising given drag itself is rooted in the blackface minstrel shows of the last century.”

As with many of this kind of blatant anti-Christian hate, the venomous intersectional dragon, and its head-spinning confusion about when woke social justice, becomes intolerance, prejudice and racism, is an intellectual quagmire many in the MSM aren’t yet brave enough to attempt to wrangle.

In latter estimates, Christian Post reported that the LGBT group’s mock chattel slavery auctioning off of Christians raised $1,865 dollars for Planned Parenthood.

The October slavery auction wasn’t an isolated case. It’s since been followed by a drag queen who performed a mock abortion,pulling a plastic doll out of his fake distended stomach in a Zombie Cannibal Performance,’ in early November.

Without any widespread condemnation of these events, they’re bound to increase. Silence will be interpreted as a free license for hostile LGBT groups to abdicate responsibility for their own hate, for more indifferent juvenile dismissals, and anti-Christian bigotry; obediently carried out in absolute allegiance to the LGBT flag, and deceptively waved about as counter-protest.

The mock chattel slavery auctioning off of Christians by members of the LGBT community, proves that many on the Left don’t fear theocratic rule, they see Christians as a direct threat to their own quest for a theocracy, driven by the ravenous lust of the LGBT religion, in worship to a false god, who rules under one of the greatest lies every perpetrated on the hearts of humanity, love is love.

As Karl Barth noted in 1921:

‘Eros deceives. As a biological function it is now hot, then cold. Eros does not merely deceive: it is also uncritical. Agape on the other hand, consistently accepts and rejects. Only the love which is strong enough to abhor that which is evil can cleave to that which is good. Agape is therefore both sweet and bitter [involving a Yes & a No]. It can preserve peace; but it can also engage in conflict.’ [i]

References:

[i] Barth, K. 1922, Epistle to the Romans, 12:9; Oxford University Press, assembled from pp.453 & 454 (See also Barth, CD.3:2 pp.280-285)

First published on Caldron Pool, 14th November, 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Entitled ‘Gideon: God is my Lord’ [i] and preached in Berlin on February 26, 1933 ‘Bonhoeffer gave his first sermon’ since Hitler had been enshrined as chancellor 27 days prior.

Bonhoeffer’s decision to preach from the Old Testament was deliberate. In my opinion, he couldn’t have picked a more controversial figure, at the time, to make a political point.

Nazism, much the same as Communism, is an industry built on victimhood. These systems need a perpetual sense of victimization and sympathy in order to maintain membership and political momentum.

Bonhoeffer understood this. He chose Gideon in a deliberate attempt to preach against the imagery used in Nazi propaganda. In a way Bonhoeffer was reaching for Martin Luther’s epic treatise ‘Bondage of the Will’, to challenge Nazism’s ‘Triumph of the Will.’[ii]

For example: Larry Rasmussen suggests Bonhoeffer contrasted a ‘young [powerless] man chosen by God to save Israel from their enemies and turn them away from the worship of false gods’ with ‘Siegfried, the unconquered Germanic hero figure (of the Nibelung saga), idealised by the Nazis.’ [iii]

Expanding on this Isabel Best writes that Bonhoeffer sets out to ‘describe God’s power in contrast to human might, and finally from Martin Luther’s ‘A Might Fortress,’ to assure his hearers that even now the power, and the victory, are God’s alone.’[iv]

Gideon’s message is God’s grace to the Israelites and through the witness of Gideon this message is also about God’s graciousness towards humanity.

Bonheoffer expresses this clearly:

‘Gideon, we recognise your voice only too well; you sound just the same today as you did then…
Who would be willing to say that he or she has never heard this call and has never answered, as Gideon did: Lord, with what I am supposed to do such great things?
But Gideon is silenced; today as just in those days, he’s told to shut up. You’re asking, “With what?” Haven’t you realised what it means that this is God calling to you? Isn’t the call of God enough for you; if you listen properly, doesn’t it drown out all your “with what” questions?
“I will be with you” – that means you are not asked to do this with any other help. It is I who have called you; I will be with you; I shall be doing it too. Do you hear that, Gideon of yesterday and today?
God has called you, and that is enough. Do you hear that, individual doubting Christian, asking and doubting Christian? God has plans for you, and that does mean you.
Be ready to see to it. Never forget, even when your own powerlessness is grinding you down to the ground, that God has phenomenal, immeasurable, great plans for you. I will be with you.’ [v]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is someone I’d heard of, yet never read with any serious interest until I started college. Since then I have made inroads into understanding his life, theology and influences.

Most Christians who’ve heard of Bonhoeffer might only know him as a an obscure martyr; others will be able to match the name in more detail with the context and images of an era when Europe was consumed by an industrial military complex, imposing new cultural laws, issuing forth blitzkrieg, euthanasia, and mass murder; inciting euphoria through the progeny of Darwinian Socialism, the false doctrines of Nazi dogma.

The latter was swarming the globe, enraging some, and finding recruits in others. All through the promise of a new dawn for humanity – one embossed in the appearance of allegiance with Christianity, when instead it was firmly based on the survival of the fittest, racial supremacy, socialism, scientism, and pagan religion.

Faced with the uncertainty of the times, Bonhoeffer reaches for a tangible example from the Biblical text.

Some of us may find the times confusing. Some are frustrated, and feel powerless in the face of new industries built up around victimhood. Those of us in this category, who have a decent amount of knowledge of history, also lament at how those new victimhood industries are fast reflecting the old.

The truth is that we are witnessing a new wave of organized chaos that has to some degree breached walls where restraint has remained the stalwart of freedom. We are dragged into a fight for freedom and the Western world. A battle that must now be fought, but one we didn’t desire, nor ask for.

In the midst of this, Bonhoeffer and Gideon’s story speaks, reminding us to carry this burden without compromise, to maintain Christ-like integrity in the heat of battle, with the knowledge that though the enemy calls our faith weakness, God calls it strength. He still reigns, and we must trust that He, in His mercy will provide the means to address the challenges of today, and the challenges of tomorrow.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – (Philippians 4:6, ESV)


References:

[i] Best, I. (Ed.) 2012 The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer Fortress Press, p.67

[ii] Veith, G. E. 2010. The Spirituality of the Cross, Concordia Publishing House

[iii] Rasmussen, L in The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer, Isabel Best, (Ed.) 2012  Fortress Press, p.67

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid, pp.67-74 & Stroud, D.G. (Ed.) Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich  Wm.B Eerdmans Press, pp.51-61

An updated version of Gideon Speaks & Sounds Just The Same Today As He Did Then  from September 24, 2014.

First published on Caldron Pool, 5th November, 2019.

Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019.

The Trudeau era and its burgeoning “progressive” totalitarianism got an extension this week as Canadians voted. Consequently, Canadian Liberals were reinstated, winning 157 seats, against the Conservatives who secured 121. Conservatives scored a narrow loss, winning the popular vote at 34.4%, but not securing enough seats to win a majority. [i]

In an opinion piece for Crisis Magazine, Canadian Professor Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University, Donald, DeMarco, presented a grim analysis of Canada’s Trudeaun landscape.

DeMarco expressed concern about apathy, and a general lack of awareness at the slow erosion of hard-won, tried and true, classical liberal freedoms, stating that ‘many Canadian voters seemed indifferent to the fact that their culture is clearly shifting in a totalitarian direction.’

DeMarco’s concern isn’t unwarranted, as he points out,

‘The Trudeau government required students applying for government-funded summer jobs to sign an attestation professing their support of abortion, same-sex marriage, and the LGBTQ coalition. He banned certain Christian summer camps serving underprivileged children from participating in the Canada Summer Jobs Program because of their religious beliefs. (This “is nothing short of anti-religious bigotry,” commented Justice Centre staff lawyer Marty Moore.) He has committed $7.1 billion over the next ten years to promote abortion at home and abroad. He will not allow Liberal MPs to vote their conscience on matters of abortion and LGBTQ matters, and he will not allow pro-life candidates to run as Liberals. He opposes conscience rights for health care workers.’

He’s not wrong. Lifesite news provided evidence on the 15th October, which proved that Trudeau was ‘personally involved’ in the creation of this echo of the Hitler oath requirement.

For DeMarco, these are part of a growing number of signs that totalitarianism is darkening the skies over Canada.

These signs include: ‘1) unanimity of thought, 2) suppression of criticism, 3) denial of conscience, 4) abdication of reason, 5) government coercion, 6) mass conditioning of thought and will, and 7) persecution of dissenters. All these signs are evident in Canadian society and they became crystal clear throughout the campaign.’ [ii]

These signs are across the Canadian political spectrum. According to DeMarco, even ‘the leaders of the New Democratic Party and the Green Party think the same way concerning abortion, same-sex marriage, LGBTQ issues, doctor-assisted suicide, and the decriminalizing of marijuana and prostitution.’

The issue of totalitarianism isn’t just an issue for Canadians. All Westerners are looking down at this hypodermic needle, strategically poised to pierce the beating heart of the West’s foundations, most of which are grounded in the Biblical Christian witness of the Gospel; the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. There is no doubt therefore that the West is faced with a chiasm between a house of freedom under which we live out the liberation of the Gospel, and a house of slavery, under which we are enslaved by the destructive worship of idols and antichrists.

Without people (especially Bible believing Christians) who are willing to rise above the threat of isolation, above the noise of anxiety, and speak truth in love despite fear and timidity, history will repeat itself.Those on the Left, who’ve intravenously injected the Leftist kool-aid of modern liberalism, know this. Christianity is attacked beyond the boundaries of fair criticism because Bible believing Christians are a threat to totalitarian rule. They bring the Gospel witness to the state, which says, with respect for the role of the state, that the state is also subject to the sovereignty of the God who has spoken, and made Himself known in time and space, through Covenant with Israel, and in Jesus Christ.

Trudeau’s requirement is on par with that of Hans Kerrl. Kerrl was NAZI Minister for Church Affairs who acting on the National Socialist  decrees, famously demanded that,

“The Church’s proclamation [preaching/teaching; Gospel & service] must fall into the correct relationship with National Socialism [or else].” [iii]

Another grim example is United States, Democrat Presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke’s threat to remove tax-exemption from churches if they don’t pledge allegiance to LGBT ideology, specifically same-sex marriage.

Like O’Rourke’s cheap shot at Christian charities, most of whom carry their fair share of social responsibility, and then some, Trudeau seems drunk with power.

Governments should not be putting in place laws that will ultimately punish free citizens from refusing to align with Leftist, LGBT ideology, or punish people for apostatising from the LGBT religion.

It may seem like an odd prediction, but I’m almost convinced that the “no” of future generations to the widespread “yes, anything goes” Leftist moralism of our day, will be far harsher than the “no” we present to this new totalitarianism today.

Like the push back against the heinous, but much celebrated at the time, practice of lobotomization. One day the push back against this new totalitarianism will be a major rebuke to those, who, in the name of “progress” have sought to destroy the fabric of freedom and responsibility, found in healthy Western traditions. All by imposing new cultural laws on the body politic who a) had no idea about the dangers, but found themselves becoming its victims, and b) on those who critiqued it, but were silenced because they saw the danger and rigorously opposed it.

For the discerning citizen interested in seeing an end to the increasing war against Western civilisation by hostile Leftist forces, the election result in Canada wasn’t all that grim. To be sure, the election didn’t reflect a Trump or Scott Morrison win, but the election results show that Canada’s Conservative presence and voice is still strong.

All the indications suggest that this will only continue to build. The best those of us, who are seeking to protect the basic freedoms and responsibilities Westerners have inherited at great cost, can hope for, is that Canadians who share those same concerns, not wallow in defeat, but keep up the gains by using this new found momentum to obstruct destructive Trojan horse laws, and win in four years time.

In the meantime, Canada’s Trudeaun landscape will not be as it was. The election result significantly limits totalitarian Trudeau’s power, presenting the discerning citizen with a potential bulwark against the Left’s hatred for Biblical Christianity and Classical Liberalism, in their ever widening embrace of the abyss.


References:

[i] The Guardian, Canada Election 2019: Full Results sourced, 26th October 2019.

[ii] DeMarco, D. 2019 citing Michael O’Brien, 1993. The Family and the New Totalitarianism, Divine Providence Press.

[iii] Bethge, E. Bonhoeffer: A Biography. p.575

First published on Caldron Pool, 27th October 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

The line between inciting hate or violence and informing others about that hate and violence is being blurred.

Facebook’s recent heavy-handed actions against Caldron Pool, and Caldron Pool contributor, Evelyn Rae, suggest that the social media platform is happy to unfairly conflate reporting or fair criticism of an event with endorsement of that event. Rae was given a 13 day ban, restricting posts from her Facebook page appearing in newsfeeds because she shared a screenshot of another person’s tweet for people to comment on. Caldron Pool experienced similar censorship after posting an article reporting on ‘Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, who had executed two Christian aid workers.’ The post was removed. Then restored on appeal, but the restrictions we left in place.

There’s a difference between advocacy and commentary.

If we apply descriptive and prescriptive linguistics to how news worthy events or commentary are presented, we can see that companies like Facebook will inevitably hurt their customer base, because they continue to blur the descriptive and the prescriptive, rather than hold them in tension.

Descriptive is freelance, risky. Prescriptive tells everyone exactly what to do and when. The failure to determine who is saying what, and why, will mean that the prescriptive parameters of speech shut down all descriptive aspects of speech and vice versa. In short, this failure kills freedom of speech and with it constitutional democracy.

Rather than being a paradox of contrasting terms, the descriptive and prescriptive can be viewed as dialectical. There is a relationship between the two. Think of it as a dynamic, dialectic linguistic muscle which moves the limbs of thought and communication forward. This relational dialectic is exemplified by feedback.

Feedback consists of both positive and negative communication. Each serves a unique purpose in evaluating information and data. Without the positive and negative, feedback is pointless. Likewise, without the descriptive process there is no freedom to communicate. Without the prescriptive process, we have no idea how to communicate.

Without the working connectivity of this relational dialectic, conflicting viewpoints have no platform. Feedback has no real role to play other than what it is allowed to be channelled into cheap echo chambers. As a result, freedom of speech either ends up adrift in a sea of discordant noise, or it becomes stuck in the paralysing quagmire of political correctness and identity politics.

We end up with what Chantal Mouffe, in The Democratic Paradox (2005), called a ‘third way’, a ‘one dimensional world’ where the ‘blurring of the frontiers between Left and Right, jeopardise the future of democracy’. This is because of an aversion to freedom of thought and freedom of speech. An aversion played out through a fear of losing, a fear of conflict, fear of people being able to discriminate and choose between two competing ideas. This would include a fear of free speech because of insecurity, and the overbearing, unachievable quest for absolute equality.

Political opponents are no longer friendly adversaries, but are pitted against each other as bitter enemies.

Constitutional Democracy ends up like a ship that’s lost its ability to move – fodder for jagged rocks; the play toy of manipulative propagandists, the progenitors of totalitarianism, and their progeny: lies, confusion and powerlessness.

There is no push and pull; no dialectic muscle to empower Mouffe’s idea of classical liberal democracy, where friendly adversaries negotiate, disagree, are diplomatic, and apply temporary compromise under the banner of unity in diversity.

According to Mouffe, the future of ‘modern democracy lies in the recognition and legitimation of conflict, along with the refusal to suppress it by imposing an authoritarian order. It’s strength lies in its ability to replace antagonism (intense dislike and deep seated hostility) with agonism (positive struggle; constructive conflict).’

For Mouffe, ‘conflict need not involve the identification of an enemy whom one wants to destroy; conflict between adversaries who may disagree can exist, but ultimately they respect one another’s right to exist.’ Bitter political enemies are ‘no longer perceived as an enemy to be destroyed, but as an ‘adversary’, that is somebody whose ideas we combat but whose right to defend those ideas we do not put into question.’ [i]

The dialectic muscle that is push and pull, allows us to hear different perspectives, formulate an opinion for ourselves, and freely communicate that opinion in a way that others can understand it. This dialectic muscle is a vital muscle for the body politic. Communication as descriptive and prescriptive dialectic, are good for constitutional democracy. They are the ingredients necessary for freedom of speech to function properly.

Social media platforms must embrace this relational dialectic by seeing that there’s a difference between describing and prescribing; the difference between commenting on events or ideas, and using those events or ideas to ‘incite violence or risk imminent harm.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg broke with the norm this week. Standing up and speaking out in favour of freedom of speech, the CEO outlined how one of his biggest challenges at Facebook was finding an answer to policing freedom of expression, while ensuring such an action doesn’t hurt freedom of expression.

Describing how difficult this is, he said “some people think our policies don’t prohibit content they think qualifies as hate, while others think what we take down should be a protected form of expression. This area is one of the hardest to get right.”

He expressed concern about ‘polarization’, saying that Facebook ‘has an important role in designing their systems to show a diversity of ideas and not encourage polarizing content.’

Zuckerberg believes that Facebook has two responsibilities in this regard: First, ‘to remove content when it could cause real danger as effectively as we can, and second, to fight to uphold as wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible — and not allow the definition of what is considered dangerous to expand beyond what is absolutely necessary.’

He said that he believed “people should be able to use our services to discuss issues they feel strongly about — from religion and immigration to foreign policy and crime. You should even be able to be critical of groups without dehumanizing them.” He also admitted that Facebook makes “enforcement mistakes” because judging who is saying what and why, “isn’t always straight-forward.”

Pointing to precedents in the United States, the Facebook CEO said, he wants to uphold broad speech rights, stating: “I know many people disagree, but, in general, I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy.”

Zuckerberg rightly stated that “while he worries about an erosion of truth, and that he doesn’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100% true.”

His quest is to leave a legacy that protects freedom of speech. In doing so he said part of the process is keeping Facebook free of fake accounts, malicious entities exploiting the platform with dubious money making scams, and removing deliberate misinformation that could lead to someone taking hazardous advice.

Part of his concern is the increasing restrictions on free speech in other countries. For example, China’s exporting of their vision of the internet, which suppresses dissent, monitors users speech and determines what kind of speech is allowed.

For me, outside his reliance on the term hate speech and polarization, Zuckerberg’s speech hit the right notes. He says a lot of the right things when it comes to putting in place protections for freedom of speech on the platform, but as with a lot of promising talk, actions speak louder than words.

I was both impressed and surprised by his stance on China, and encouraged by how he acknowledged the importance of preserving freedom of speech and its important role in a vibrant constitutional democracy.

Mennonite theologian, John Howard Yoder wrote, ‘democracy, with its judicial and constitutional processes can be essentially defined as communication.’ [ii]

The danger to constitutional democracy is the undermining of this ability to communicate freely. Free speech is let down through a failure to recognise the distinction between advocacy and commentary; the failure to acknowledge the relational push and pull dialectic of prescriptive and descriptive.

Failure to acknowledge the relational dialectic undermines free speech by emphasising prescriptive speech over the descriptive, or vice versa. This happens through the quest to control others by imposing new cultural laws on the body politic, such as anything not viewed as politically correct, being far too easily hated on, as hate speech.

We’re already see this when political groups, a lot like China’s vision for the internet, prescribe politically correct speech as the only legitimate speech. Nowhere is this more powerfully seen than in forced speech laws regarding Islam, transgenderism, or the LGBT religion in general.

The relational dialectic of push and pull has the power to preserve constitutional democracy, through agreement and disagreement. Just as tension in a muscle is necessary to ensure motion, so is the necessity to have a platform or open forum, where ideas can be aired, challenged and either adopted or reasonably rejected. All of which is built on mutual respect, not necessarily on an obligation to mutual agreement.

Zuckerberg’s concern about polarization places him in agreement with Mouffe’s argument. The preservation of constitutional democracy lies with an effort to utilise constitutional democracy’s capacity to replace antagonism (intense dislike and deep seated hostility) with agonism (positive struggle; constructive conflict).

Freedom of speech is the great relational dialectic muscle of constitutional democracy. Its push and pull gives constitutional democracy momentum. Only through its preservation, and the exercise of it, will we be able to move forward, while also preserving healthy tradition, freedom, rights and responsibilities.

 


References:

[i] Mouffe, C. 2005. The Democratic Paradox, Verso

[ii] Yoder, J.H. 1964, The Christian Witness to the State, Herald Press.

Full transcript of Mark Zuckerberg’s Speech

First published on Caldron Pool, 23rd October 2019 & also featured on The Spectator Australia, 24th October 2019.

Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Unless you’ve been completely living off grid for the past three years, you’ll know that the United Kingdom’s, 2016, Brexit referendum is yet to be officially ratified.

The 2016 referendum saw the people of the United Kingdom vote in favour of leaving the European Union by 1,269,501 people. The final result ended with 51.9% (17.5 million) of those in the U.K voting to leave the E.U, while 48.1% (16.1 million) voted to remain [i].

The results uncovered a division between North and South. The majority in England and Wales chose to leave, while Northern Ireland and Scotland, still heralding a decent leave vote, had a majority choose to remain.

In subsequent years this divide has devolved into two camps from both sides. The first, called, Remainers. The second, Leavers.

Remainers want either, no exit, a new referendum or a Brexit deal that waters down the U.K.’s exit from the E.U. On the flipside Leavers, want the referendum to be honoured, which means a clean, but respectful exit.

Given the referendum’s North vs. South outcome, and the Leave or Remain dichotomy, it’s easy enough to see why it’s taken three years for deliberations to even come close to ratifying the Brexit mandate handed to the U.K. Government.

There was a glimmer of Thatchian hope, when Theresa May took over from David Cameron, who had resigned as a direct result of the referendum outcome. However, political hurdles, comparisons to Neville Chamberlain’s “appeasement policy” and manoeuvring from Remainers, along with May’s own leadership faux pars ended up costing her the Prime Ministership.

Theresa May’s biggest mistake? ‘Not considering a no-deal Brexit a viable option.’ [ii] This is despite May all but penning the term “no-deal Brexit”, when ‘she repeatedly warned that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” [iii]

With May’s exit, hope of a resolution towards ratification now rests in the hands of Churchill fan, Boris Johnson; a man, suitable to the task at hand, but a man not without his own shortcomings. It’s now up to Johnson, and his team, to effectively lead the U.K. out of the E.U. by upholding the referendum result, and in doing so, preserving the integrity of constitutionally democratic mechanisms, such as referendums.

Of course, to do this, Johnson will still have to navigate the same waters as Theresa May. His biggest obstacles are obstructionists in his own party, the main stream media, and the Marxists under Labour’s Socialist leader, Jeremy Crobyn.

Navigating those waters isn’t going to be easy, but as Johnson has shown in the face of overwhelming defeat, if it can be done, he plans to do it.

His first task was making the most of the Queen’s speech. What the Queen’s speech gives Johnson is an opportunity to communicate his plan to the U.K. people without it being filtered through the lens of the MSM, and all with the weight of the Queen’s voice behind it.

Traditionally, the Queen opens the new parliament year with a speech written by government ministers. The formal 10 minute speech is delivered on the throne in the House of Lords. From there the speech is debated for up to five days where it is then voted upon.

Johnson hasn’t wasted the opportunity. With an emphasis on the word “forward” (mentioned 11 times) the Queen outlined the Johnson government’s plan to move the U.K. beyond the division and stalemate of the past three years.

The speech was clear, easy to understand and had a 7 point, U.K. first tone:

1. Leaving the European Union on 31 October, with an emphasis on seizing new opportunities delivered by a successful Brexit.

2. Measures to further support Healthcare.

3. Commitment to tackling violent crime, strengthening the criminal justice system and ensuring victims receive the support they need and the justice they deserve.

4. Measures we will progress to ensure fairness and protection for individuals and families.

5. Levelling up every corner of the United Kingdom through better education, infrastructure and science, renewing the ties that bind us together.

6. Deepens our commitment to the natural environment and animal welfare.

7. To Endeavour to drive forward work to deliver for every corner of the U.K. [iv]

These include two brilliant stand-out features, unpacked within the actual speech, which will appeal to both Remainers and Leavers.

The first, putting forward “an immigration bill, ending free movement, laying the foundation for a fair, modern and global immigration system.”

The second, “ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in, and contributed so much to, the United Kingdom, have the right to remain.” [v]

CNN are unsurprisingly pessimistic about Johnson’s ability to bring Brexit home, stating, ‘it’s hard to ignore the reality that this legislative agenda will probably never see the light of day in this Parliament. Rather, it seems a precursor to an inevitable general election.’

Their dismissive pessimism isn’t completely misplaced. As the BBC noted, although it is highly unusual for the Queen’s speech to be rejected, the Queen’s speech is not a complete guarantee that the government’s plan will be passed.

There’s no argument against this from me. Johnson is walking on thin ice. If he fails to win the Queen’s speech vote, he can call for an early election. If that fails, it is expected that he will be called on to resign.

The deadline for Brexit is the 31st October. To not ratify Brexit, and carry the debate beyond this date, is to hurt constitutional democracy in the U.K. Contempt for the 2016 referendum result, diminishes the importance of referendums, and in the process muzzles the voice of the people. If the healthy mechanisms of any constitutional democracy are to be protected from further erosion by enemies of freedom, rights and responsibilities, both within and without, Brexit must be ratified.

The Queen’s speech emphasises Johnson’s way forward. With it he may have hit the right note needed to inspire the 16.1 million who didn’t vote in favour of Brexit, and honour the voice of the 17.5 million who did.


References:

[i] The BBC, 2016. EU Referendum results. Sourced 15th October, 2019.

[ii] Jim Pickard, Theresa May’s Five Big Mistakes: how they stacked up, Financial Times 25th May, 2019. Sourced 15th October, 2019

[iii] The Guardian, YouTube: Brexit: ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ says Theresa May Sourced 15th October, 2019

[iv] Gov.UK, Policy Paper: Queen’s Speech: What it means for you, 14th October, 2019. Sourced, 15th October, 2019.

[v] Michael Smith News, Queens Speech Transcript, 15th October

 

First published on Caldron Pool, 16th October 2019